Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

Yemen: Thousands of IDPs hit by food ration cut

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 23 March 2010
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Yemen: Thousands of IDPs hit by food ration cut, 23 March 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bb06c850.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

AMRAN, 23 March 2010 (IRIN) - Thousands of families living outside camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Amran Governorate, some 50km north of the capital Sanaa, are finding it increasingly difficult to cope after aid agencies scaled down their regular food rations as a result of funding shortfalls since mid-February.

"We ran out of grain, beans, sugar and oil 10 days ago," said Hussein Qasim, who lives with 11 family members in a rented apartment in Amran city.

"Instead of two sacks of grain [100kg of wheat] and 10kg of beans, we received one sack and 5kg of beans, which we finished in 12 days. How can we survive until the next rations come? It is the hardest time in my life."

Qasim and his family fled their home in the Harf Sufyan District of Amran Governorate in mid-August 2009 following clashes between the army and Houthi-led Shia rebels.

Despite a ceasefire on 11 February 2010, an estimated 250,000 people remain displaced and many rely on relief assistance.

Displaced families living in rented homes or with host families say because they have no work they do not have money to buy food. "We resort to borrowing money from relatives and acquaintances to pay for food and rent," said Yahya Farea, an IDP living with his six-member family in Amran.

Funding shortfalls

Yassir Khairi, an emergency officer with NGO Islamic Relief, a World Food Programme (WFP) implementing partner, told IRIN that they were ordered by WFP to cut by 50 percent the rations of wheat and beans to families outside IDP camps during the distribution of February rations due to funding shortfalls.

"Some 28,812 families [with an average of seven members in each family] in and outside camps in the three governorates of Saada, Hajjah and Amran were reached in February," Khairi said.

"Those outside camps [25,021 families of the 28,812 assisted in February] were shocked and dissatisfied to see their rations being cut, but we tell them such things are beyond our control."

WFP's ration cut, beginning in February 2010, reduces a person's daily calorie intake from the recommended 2,100 kilocalories to about 1,700 kilocalories for IDPs, and 1,400 kilocalories for refugees, according to Giancarlo Cirri, WFP representative in Yemen.

Maria Santamarina, WFP advocacy and reporting officer in Yemen, said children will be the most affected as a result of food ration cuts.

"Beginning in May 2010, as many as 50,000 IDP children under five will no longer receive supplementary nutrition support," she told IRIN. "By the end of June 2010, WFP will face a total food pipeline collapse. Overall 1.4 million beneficiaries out of a monthly planned 1.5 million will not receive assistance."

She said beneficiaries will receive none of the monthly planned 100kg of wheat, and less than 1kg of the planned 5kg of sugar per family.

"Perplexed"

Since early February 2010, UN aid agencies have been reporting a critical funding problem that threatens their humanitarian operations in the north.

"We are perplexed about the lack of urgency and donor interest in Yemen's humanitarian situation," Pratibha Mehta, UN resident coordinator in Yemen, told IRIN. "The number of IDPs and refugees has gone up since the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for US$177 million was launched in December 2009, and the needs are growing," Mehta said.

"As IDPs whom we can reach have been getting regular assistance, any drop in relief will not only affect their health and wellbeing but could also result in mistrust and unrest," she added.

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